Trip Report: 1st U.S. Semantic Technologies Symposium (#US2TS)

I attended the 1st U.S. Semantic Technologies Symposium (#US2TS), hosted by Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio on March 1-2, 2018. The goal of this meeting was to bring together the U.S. community interested in Semantic Technologies. I was extremely happy to see 120 people get together in Dayton, Ohio to discuss semantics for 2 days. I’m glad to see such a vibrant community in the U.S. … and not just academics. Actually, I would say that academics were the minorities. I saw a lot of familiar faces and met a lot of people from different areas.

The program was organized around the following topics: Cross Cutting Technologies, Publishing and Retrieving, Space and Time and Life Sciences. Each topic had a set of panelists. Each panelist gave a 10 minute talk. There was plenty of time for discussion and a break out session. It was a very lively. The program can be found here:

I gave a 10 min version of my talk “Integrating Relational Databases with the Semantic Web: a journey between two cities“. The takeaway message: in order to use semantic technologies to address the data challenges of business intelligence and data integrate, we need to fulfill the role of the Knowledge Engineer and empowered them with new tools and methodologies. Looks like I did a good job at it and it was well received 😃

Two main topics: Ontologies and Tools

Complexity and Usability of ontologies was a topic throughout the two days. Hallway talk is that light semantics is enough (happily surprised to hear this). However, Life Science and Spatial domain need heavyweight semantics (more below). CIDOC-CRM is the ontology used in the museum domain. Apparently very complicated. A lot of people don’t like it but they have to use it.

Linked Open USABLE Data (LOUD): We need to find a balance between usable and complexity.

I was part of a breakout session on ontologies and reuse. I really appreciated Peter Fox’s comment on ontologies (paraphrasing): there are three sides that we need to take into account 1) expressivity, 2) maintainability and 3) evolvability

I shared our pay-as-you-go methodology to create ontologies and mappings in a poster and in hallway discussions. It was well received.

Tools Tools TOOLS: we need better tools. That was another theme of the meeting. There seemed to be an agreement with my claim that the existing tools are made for the semantic city.

JSON-LD came up a lot. People love it.

Application Areas of Semantics

As expected, Life science was present at this meeting. Melissa Haendel from Oregon Health & Science University showed some really cool results that were possible thanks to semantics. Chris Mungall from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory gave an overview of the Gene Ontology.

Really interesting to learn that data in the geography domain (spatial data) is complex and requires heavyweight semantics, just like in life science.

Interesting observations about humanities data. I see the need for semantics

I need to check out “A gazetteer of period definitions for linking and visualizing data“. One of the project leads is a fellow longhorn, Prof. Adam Rabinowitz. I want to meet him!

Meeting people

Great chatting with Varish Mulwad from GE Research and learning about all the semantic work that is going on at GE Research. Need to check out Semtk (Semantics Toolkit ) and these papers: .

SemTK: An Ontology-first, Open Source Semantic Toolkit for Managing and Querying Knowledge Graphs

Integrated access to big data polystores through a knowledge-driven framework

I enjoy meeting Alessandro Oltramari and learning about the semantic work going on at Bosch.

Great to finally meet Vinh Nguyen. Her PhD was on Contextualized Knowledge Graphs (I should take a look at her PhD dissertation) and she is now organizing an ISWC 2018 workshop on this topic.

Happy Birthday Craig Knoblock!! He gave a fantastic keynote on his birthday!

Glad to have bumped into Ora Lassila. It’s been a long time!!

Future research directions

Take aways from the Meeting

This is an event that was missing in the U.S. I’m glad that it was organized (Fantastic job Pascal and Krzysztof!). Looking forward to this event next year!

6 Replies to “Trip Report: 1st U.S. Semantic Technologies Symposium (#US2TS)”

  1. Thanks for sharing, Juan.
    One thing that I think it’s worth highlighting is the thought from Yolanda on adoption of Semantic Web technologies in other communities such as NLP/Machine learning. While our community is increasingly adopting ML techniques (possibly due to an appropriate tooling like scikit learn) most of our tooling/standards are regarded as too complex.

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